SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for The Batman Who Laughs #6 by Scott Snyder, Jock, David Baron and Sal Cipriano, on sale now.
The Caped Crusader has his hands full with the comic's title villain in Scott Snyder and Jock's The Batman Who Laughs #6. But the series has another evil Batman at large – The Grim Knight. Not to worry, though. There are a couple of others available to face off against that incarnation of Batman, and both don some familiar, future-tech costumes while doing so. That's right, the future has arrived, as these new outfits appear to be the same as that worn by Terry McGinnis – aka Batman Beyond.
It's not Terry inside either costume. Instead, it's none other than GCPD Commissioner Jim Gordon, along with his son James. Father and son find themselves as the last line of defense at Gotham's water reservoir. The Grim Knight has made his way to the reservoir to poison the city's water supply with The Batman Who Laugh's toxin and infect the city's populace. Unable to stand against The Grim Knight unarmed, the pair locate a pair of the prototype Bat-suits – sans masks, but with electrified chain mail armor that gives the two a fighting chance against the well-armed, evil Batman.
Who is the New Batman Beyond?
The Grim Knight disables the suits' capabilities and then engages in some psychological warfare, particularly against James. Getting inside the younger Gordon's mind, The Grim Knight plays on James' insecurities, convincing him that his father doesn't love him because of his past psychopathic behavior. James seems to fall for The Grim Knight's manipulations. In apparent acknowledgement that he believes his father only sees him as a bad guy, James puts on his mask and stands fully clad as Batman Beyond.
James doesn't officially claim the title, and in fact the character's name isn't even mentioned. Although unnamed, the issue represents the first chronological appearance of a character bearing the costume in the mainstream present-day DC Universe. While there's no known ancestor to Terry McGinnis in current continuity, The Batman Who Laughs #6 potentially serves as the introduction of the costume into the DC Universe, which in turn might usher in the earliest history of the Batman Beyond character.
Might James Gordon be the DCU's first Batman Beyond? It's entirely possible, as there's no incarnation of the character currently, and James hasn't been prominently featured in any role of late. James' father adopted the role of The Dark Knight during Snyder's run on Batman, so the writer might be eyeing a similar role for the younger Gordon. And there's always room for another Bat-character in the ever-growing Bat-family.
Batman Beyond – Friend or Foe?
James isn't really acting like he might be much of a good guy. But then, there's no shortage of evil Batman running around in the DC Universe, either, so there might be enough room for another one of those, too. That notion would certainly add an interesting new dynamic to the Gordon clan. Both of Jim Gordon's adult children would be wearing Bat-suits – one on his side, and one against. It would also serve as an unexpected start to the Batman Beyond legacy, one that could now feature the wrinkle of eventual redemption.
Batman Beyond needed an official introduction into present continuity at some point – this might as well be it. James Gordon's pending actions in the suit – as well as the series' other plotlines – stand to be resolved next issue, the conclusion to the series.
The Batman Who Laughs #7 goes on sale July 31.